Hello my love,
I started working on your swing set. It had been lying in a pile under the deck since I had brought it back from the old house. I went through the pieces, board by board, trying to figure out which ones I could keep and which needed to be replaced. I want to keep as much of the original set as possible, but some pieces are just too worn. It used to rock and sway so bad as you swung back and forth. I guess I have to rebuild it a little bit stronger if I want to swing on it. We used to spend so much time out at that swing…even in the cold. You loved that swing, which is why I had hoped it would feel good to work on it. But..piece by piece, memory after memory flooded my thoughts. I thought about the big red ball we used to keep in the back yard and how I would toss it to you while you were swinging toward me and you would kick it. Most times it would go straight up in the air, but sometimes it would come right back at me and I’d ham it up and pretend that it knocked me over. You’d laugh so hard I was always afraid you’d fall off the swing. That laugh could cure any foul mood I happened to be in. Always. It was such a gift, and “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above,…” (James 1:17)
It’s raining right now. I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ve always liked the rain and I really, really enjoy thunderstorms. I remember always having you in my lap or holding on to you as big storms rolled through. I don’t know if you liked them, or just got a kick out of how much I liked them. I used to watch them with such enthusiasm, now they are just perspective, a reminder of how small I really am when measured against something so great and powerful. Sometimes I like to think God sent the rain just for me, so I can close my eyes, turn my face towards the sky and let the rain just wash my tired eyes. Like I said, I really do like the rain. I feel bad about writing that bit though. There’s a whole a lot of people in WV suffering because of the rain. Lost loved ones, lost homes…I’ve been praying for them, but I’m going to find a way to do more than that. I know they’re asking the same question, the only question. A question as old as suffering itself…why? What did I do to deserve this? Certainly, what feels like punishment, is exactly that. Right? Maybe I’ll find out one day. I think deep down, I know the answer, I didn’t do anything to deserve this suffering. Coincidentally, “Why do I deserve to go to Heaven?” What have I done to justify Jesus suffering on the cross, for me?” Nothing. “8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Did I deserve it in either case? No. Although, I will admit, sometimes I want to believe I deserved it just so I have a reason to be angry, but I know better. The rain falls on the just and unjust alike… “44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:44-45)
A rainy day sort of symbolizes my life right now, where I am with my grief. It’s no longer the violent storm I once wrote about. More like a sad, dreary, day. A certain Bill Withers song comes to mind…
Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone
Only darkness every day.
Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone
And this house just ain’t no home
It’s just so sad around here without your smiling face. And I cannot stand seeing Mommy struggle so much, knowing there really isn’t anything I can say or do other than just hold on to her and pray. Her pain is mine too. Part of praying for her to feel better almost feels a little selfish, like it will help me feel better. I don’t think either of us really know what better is. How could we? I don’t think we’ll know happiness until it finds us. I like to imagine it as a moment when I can smile, because I’m thinking about you smiling at the fact that I’m smiling.
It was a beautiful weekend, but those seem to be the hardest. It didn’t help that it coincided with the five month mark. I don’t think I had ever been apart from you for more than five days, probably more like two, but one was one too many and it still is. I feel mocked every time I see something wonderful and can’t share it with you. The evening before, I went outside and there must have been 1000 fireflies in the yard. It was like we had a back yard full of little twinkling stars. Clara would love this… Inevitably, a moment like that will lead to some very tough thoughts. I’m getting a little better at fighting them off. I suppose it’s easier to defend yourself when you see it coming. Most of the troubling thoughts, when you really stop and analyze them, have a common theme, or goal you might say. Surely, I’ll be miserable the rest of my life; There must have been something I could have done; There had to be another way for me to become faithful to Jesus; God is surely punishing me. How can a good and loving God do this?…It may be a stretch, but to me, they are all trying to get me to give up and start questioning the one truth that has given me any kind of peace. The oldest trick in the book: “But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.” ( Genesis 3:4 )
One foot in this life, one in the next. My mind trapped between painful memories and an uncertain future. You took my heart with you when you left to be with Jesus. It’s ok, you can keep it, I’ll just have to grow a new one 🙂 Besides, I don’t ever want to lose sight of what’s really important:
34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Luke 12:34)
I miss you baby girl.
luke phillips katy phillips clara phillips